Failing Forward

with Daniel Cassadio

Chapter 19 - Fast & Furious: Switzerland Drift

Chapter EntriesDaniel Casadio2 Comments

In ‘Uncle Daniel’s room’, just outside of Rome. It’s beautiful to be with family again.

I wrote this blog: 

There Alex and I were, in the middle of nowhere, our thumbs out; with one simple goal. Hitch hike from Northern Germany (where our community was) to Milan, Italy. We didn’t know if we were still quite Northern, or Southern or Western or anywhere. We really had no idea where we were but we loved it.

Throughout the journey, we sneaked into a caravan park and slept in there, one time a beautiful person picked us up and we stayed at her house for the night; she really took care of us. There was a point when we were trying to get out of this small town in Switzerland and we went against one fundamental rule of hitch hiking: never hitch hike at night.

A local in the area picked us up in the very late evening, as the sun had already set and he wanted to help us. But his house wasn’t too far away, we said drop us anywhere and we’ll work it out but he was scared for us. We agreed it would be good if he dropped us off at the Zurich Airport, because there would be lots of travellers not staying in Zurich and going south of Switzerland. He did a big detour from his home, paid the fees to get into the airport and as we were arriving into the parking bays, I asked him a question, I should have asked him a long time ago. “This airport is 24 hour, right?”, he looks at me and says; “I don’t think so, I’m pretty sure it shuts at 11 or 12 tonight”. I check the time, its 22:53. What the f@#% are we doing here? I thought to myself. This beautiful human being has done such a huge kind gesture, but also… he has inconvenienced us a lot.

We thanked him very much for coming all this way and for paying for us to get in. We said our goodbyes and then we went straight to work. Alex held the sign up and I was busy talking to people; starting conversations learning about their lives and then trying to squeeze in the favour if we were able to get a lift or not. The people were very nice, but it was all one big no. The airport shut, so we went to the gas station that was nearby, I continued talking to people and Alex held the sign for any drivers driving or walking by. There it was all one big no. I was exhausted and quite angry. I just wanted to get out of here. Alex says to me in a soothing voice; “Bro, maybe we should just find a place to camp tonight and we’ll continue the mission tomorrow”. That was the last thing I wanted to hear, I wanted to get out of here so badly, the suggestion angered me more. But he was right, I just couldn’t let go. I tried talking to a few more drivers but nothing was working, my enthusiasm was gone and my smile was nowhere to be seen. I wouldn’t pick me up.

10 minutes later, I reluctantly agreed with Alex, let’s find a spot to sleep tonight. We walked a kilometre out of the airport and found a hill that was covered with trees. We set the tent up in the bush and fell asleep to the cars flying by on the highway.

The next morning, we were back in the same place, feeling a bit more refreshed, we had a speaker jamming and Florence the Machine was singing her heart out about the dog days are over. We got picked up, this guy lived nearby the airport but also did a detour and took us to the centre of Zurich. Alex and I swum in the lake that goes through the city and we felt unbelievably happy to be out of that area. We needed this. Alex was right about the night before, I needed to let go, have a sleep and return to the situation the next day. Learn to let go.

A few hours later, we found ourselves quite south in Switzerland and we were making good progress. Although it was very ambitious, we were hoping to be in Italy tonight. Anywhere in Italy. But the thought of Italy was quickly darkening because we were again having trouble getting out of this small town (I cannot remember the name). We had walked a few kilometres with our backpacks trying to get to the entry of the autobahn (highway) and the sun wasn’t so friendly either with her heat.

We found a good spot, but we weren’t getting picked up. People would stop but they all going the opposite direction. Alex and I were remaining optimistic but I was preparing myself for not making it to Italy tonight. I didn’t want to let go just yet; I wanted to fight.

This elderly gentleman drove by in an old Grey Fiat Panda, in my broke German, I told him anywhere South is good for us. We continued communicating with each other, but we weren’t really understanding each other, he wanted to help us but he as well wasn’t going that direction.

He drove away and I looked to the sky. Took a few deep breathes and we continued to act positive so the drivers wouldn’t think we were serial killers. Cars kept driving by and nothing was happening. When suddenly Fast and Furious became real; I saw in the corner of my eye some old car coming from the opposite direction doing a massive skid/U-Turn into our parking bay. It was a Fiat Panda. Hang on, it was an old Grey Fiat Panda!  

Alex and I ran to the car and we didn’t know what he was saying, but he was excited. There was a big chance that he had misunderstood us and could drive us further away from Italy. We really didn’t think we were on the same page, but Alex and I smiled and agreed let’s just get out of here and hope for the best.

We got into the car. I fell asleep. I was exhausted. But it was one of those shitty car sleeps, where you wake up every two or ten minutes. After a while, I was thinking; Woah. We’ve been in this car for a long time. We stopped by into a gas station, Alex was incredibly happy, I received his energy and tried to keep up with him. But I had no idea why happiness was the appropriate emotion to have. Alex then told me; “this guy drove around an hour out of his way for us to get here, we are getting closer to Italy!”. Now I was genuinely happy, we hugged and showered an over flowing amount of love to this elderly gentleman. Although we couldn’t communicate properly to each other, hopefully he understood how grateful we were.

He left, and we were at the gas station, hyped and passionate. We didn’t know if we were going to make it to Italy tonight, but we were happy either way. As we continued pointing our thumbs south, we saw quite a few Italian number plates, but it wasn’t working out. Until Alex was talking to this truck driver from the Netherlands and he was on his way to Italy and his destination was just outside of Milan! Somehow our hype and passion took another level up. But there was a problem, he didn’t know whether or not he could take us for insurance reasons. He answered a phone call and was on the phone for some time. Then a driver pulls up and says she can take us ‘just outside the tunnel’. I didn’t know what that meant, I looked down the highway and saw a massive beautiful mountain. Mountains were everywhere here and it really was stunning. Back to the problem, she can take us now, ‘just outside the tunnel’, whatever the flop that means. Alex and I were conflicted, do we wait for a maybe ride that he could maybe take us to Italy or do we get into this car now and go ‘just outside the tunnel’. We were drastically conflicted.

We hoped into this girl’s car. It would be horrible if we turned down this ride, then this Netherlands guy couldn’t take us either. As we started driving, Alex fell asleep quite quickly and it turns out that; ‘just outside the tunnel’ was a good 60 kilometres away. I was happy, that’s good progress, obviously it’s no Italy; but its progress.

This beautiful driver and I talked and talked. Talked of religion, spirituality, meaning to life, work, money, studying, our experiences of life… everything. We had a break in our very deep conversation and giggled at Alex snoring; and then she says; “so I’ve drove past my turn off to my town”. I was confused but also very grateful. She continued; “I like you guys, I love this discussion, I’ll drive you to Lugano”. I was thrilled! That was the last town and then not much further was Italy!

We continued talking. She has two jobs and works more than 10 hours a day. Monday – Saturday. Today is her only day off. Talking & talking to the point where I saw her drive past the Lugano turn off! She looked at me and smiled. “I like you guys, I love this discussion, I’ll drive you to Milan”. I was in awe. I argued and said “you can’t take us so far. You can’t drive us so much, this is your only day off”. She was stubborn. I looked at the beautiful mountains, with the sunset orange glow projecting onto them. We are getting to Milan tonight. Tonight! My eyes watered, but she didn’t see, luckily.


It was because of her, I got to see my oldest brother and older sister and their kids all together. Yes, you need to be careful of strangers, you have to be careful to who you trust. But love is different. Showing love to strangers, when you don’t know if they don’t deserve it or when you don’t know what they’re about. This woman didn’t know us or what we were about but she continued loving us and driving us longer, love is also a two-way concept and I definitely did my best to keep up! I know it sounds pretty hippie, how I keep using the word ‘love’, find a different word if you want but the principle is still the same.

This beautiful human, drove 2 ½ hours out of her way. What I can’t wrap my head around is that after she dropped us off, she has to drive all that way back. By herself.

Thank you for your undeniable selflessness.

Best of luck with your adventure next year in India.


People are beautiful.